An unexpected journey

Rings of Power steals a brilliant trick from early Game of Thrones

There’s no problem so great it can’t be solved by a walk in the woods.

What’s your favorite Game of Thrones plotline? Sure, there are blockbuster moments like the Red Wedding and the Battle of the Bastards. But if you really think about it, those aren’t the scenes that made HBO’s fantasy series one of the best of all time. GoT’s secret weapon was something much more subtle, and it’s one The Rings of Power manages to replicate in Episode 7 of the Lord of the Rings prequel show.

What Game of Thrones did best was pair off unexpected characters and send them on season-long journeys across Westeros. I’m talking about Brienne and Jaime Lannister, or Arya and The Hound. These characters had nothing in common when they first met, but they found common ground by simply spending enough time walking through the woods together and sharing their thoughts. Better yet, because we knew each character on their own first, the audience could appreciate how their unlikely friendships changed them for the better.

Arya and The Hound in Game of Thrones.HBO
Theo and Galadriel in The Rings of Power.Amazon

After six episodes sent establishing an equally sprawling cast, The Rings of Power reset the balance of power in Middle-earth with the eruption of Mount Doom at the end of Episode 6. That’s most clear in the unlikely pairing of Galadriel and Theo, who find themselves stranded in the decimated Southlands and forced to work together if they hope to survive.

There’s no narrative reason for Theo and Galadriel to hang out together. The show hasn’t been building to this, and it probably won’t matter in the long run, but the conversations they share are some of the most rewarding in Rings of Power so far. Galadriel gives Theo the encouragement he needs in his darkest moment, freeing him from the guilt that’s been weighing him down. Theo gives Galadriel a new purpose at one of the lowest points in her very long life — and also helps provide some useful exposition that may matter a lot later on.

By the end of Episode 7, Galadriel and Theo have rejoined the rest of the survivors and gone their separate ways. Unlike the season-long pairings we got in Game of Thrones, this one only lasted a single episode. But in that one hour, Rings of Power still managed to replicate an experience TV fans haven’t had in many years: Two strangers walking down a road with nothing but time to pass and stories to share.

Rings of Power airs Fridays at midnight on Amazon Prime.

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